Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year Postcards


Happy New Year greetings
No fireworks or hats
Just good wishes and
Postcards from the past.

These postcards date from 1909 to 1922. Times were different then, as can be seen in the images and greetings. Enjoy the cards and see you in the New Year. Bob & Susan








Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birthstones


For millennia various cultures have assigned certain powers and blessings to gemstones, often relating them to birthdays, months and zodiac signs. Birthstones were even discussed in the Bible. The list of birthstones can be found in Revelation 21:19-20, where the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem are listed, in the order of the Roman calendar.

Ancient birthstone designations were established in Tibet (the so-called Mystical birthstones) and India (Ayurvedic birthstones). Traditional birthstones have circulated in various societies for a few centuries, and there are a variety of combinations based on their origins. In 1912, the Jewelers of America published a standardized list that endures to today, known as the Modern Birthstone list.
Combined Modern and Traditional Birthstones
During 2011, starting in January, I will be featuring the month's birthstone in our Vintages Featured Product blog. I compiled the above list by combining traditional and modern lists. I think this is an excellent list to use as both traditional and modern stones give a greater variety to choose from and are equally valid as gifts. As far as special powers and blessings go, you are on your own.

A great source of information on gems is Keith Wallis' book Gemstones: Understanding, Identifying,  Buying. I use this book religiously to understand stones in jewelry that we acquire and sell in the shop.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas


Ever wonder how much it would cost to purchase all the gifts in the classic Holiday song The Twelve Days of Christmas? Well the folks over at PNC Wealth Management just released their 27th annual PNC Christmas Price Index, which calculates the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses. This 2010 holiday season, very generous True Loves have to fork over $96,824 for all 364 gifts, an even more eye-popping 10.8 percent increase compared to last year. WOW! I did not realize that a partridge in a pear tree or seven swans a-swimming could cost so much! Check out the the PNC website for the details.
But in reality, the twelve days of Christmas are now upon us. Vintages can assure you that a True Love can get by on much less in our shop ... and get much more relevant and wonderful gifts as well.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me ...
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Limoges Porcelain Boxes • Wonderful Miniatures from France


We have always loved miniature boxes. Through the years we have collected little boxes from several countries and made from materials like wood, silver, pottery, glass, and our favorite, porcelain. The hand painted porcelain boxes from Limoges, France, are fascinating. The range of design and intricacy makes it possible to collect these miniatures for a long time and not tire of them. Plus, since they are small, they are easy to display and do not take up a lot of space.
Our personal collection of wine related Limoges boxes.
The Limousin district of France, about 200 miles south of Paris, was known for its intricate enamel work as far back as the 12th century. Pottery production began in the early 1700s, with the manufacture of simple, functional faience pieces. These two industries provided a good base of experience and skill for the introduction of hard-paste porcelain when kaolin clay was discovered in the area around 1770.

Decorated hard-paste porcelain was known to the Chinese as far back as the second century BC, but was not introduced to the Europeans until early in the 16th century. The Chinese guarded their formulas and techniques closely, but in 1712 the German Meissen Factory developed methods to make the high fired, hard-paste porcelain. When the right kaolin clay was discovered near the town of Limoges, the French monarchy helped establish the Limoges porcelain industry. 

Limoges porcelain boxes are completely hand made in the city of Limoges, France. Originally these were designed as snuff boxes, and were a necessary accessory for the well dressed French lady or gentleman in the 18th and 19th centuries. Later these boxes were used as patch boxes and pill boxes. Some are large enough for trinkets, perfume bottles, thimbles and sewing kits, and special treasures.
Contemporary Limoges Boxes in the Traditional Style
The earlier boxes - essentially antique and vintage pieces from before 1950 - were quite traditional and simple in shape and design, reflecting their purpose as a snuff or pill box. After WWII, the industry began to bring our designs that were much more complex and whimsical. These novelty boxes still hold to the high standards of workmanship established over the long history of Limoges porcelain manufacture. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hand Made Christmas Holiday Ornaments

Susan has made these marvelous ornaments for the Holidays. Each is made from a vintage Christmas or Holiday image and sealed inside a pair of 2x3 inch glass slides. The backs have a Holiday message or greeting. The edges are sealed using lead-free silver solder. Each has a bright ribbon for hanging and comes in a white box with a red ribbon and bow!

These sell for $19.95 each and can be customized for a small additional charge. We do not have these in our online shop, but if you see one here that you like, or wish to have Susan make a custom ornament for you, please contact us.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Parade & Santa Claus

Los Gatos was very festive these past few days. The Town celebrated the start of the Holiday Season on friday evening with the tree lighting ceremony in the Town Plaza. There was a great turnout. Lots of fun!

Then we had the 54th Annual Children's Holiday Parade on Saturday morning. It was exciting and fun as well. Santa came along at the end of the parade. Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas to all ...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cavallini Paper, Rubber Stamps and more

Vintages has offered Cavallini's decorative papers, rubber stamps, gift tags and stickers for quite awhile. We have now added most of their products to our online sales site.
 Cavallini creates products that are both beautiful and functional. Whether it is a 19th-century butterfly print or a well-loved piece of ephemera, they pull from a vast archival collection for the perfect image. They print their products on high quality Italian paper. We appreciate the workmanship and attention to detail Cavallini puts into their line decorative papers, stamps and notebooks. You will too.
Cavallini decorative papers cover a wide array of subjects - from birds and nature, to Paris and London, to post cards and maps. These paper sheets are suitable for  framing, altered art, art projects, crafting, scrapbooking and, of course, gift wrapping. Their file folders co-ordinate with the decorative papers. We do not offer the decorative papers and file folders online, but we do carry a nice selection at the shop in Los Gatos.

Rubber stamps are packaged in decorative tins and include an ink pad. The stamps are excellent quality, something really necessary when creating artwork.
The labels, decorative stickers and gift tags are equally well-made and come in a wide variety of themes. We happen to really like birds and Parisien images, so we always have those in stock.
The notebooks are another great item from Cavallini.  We offer only the small notebooks online, but do have some of the others in stock at our shop.
Please visit us in Los Gatos, or online. We would love to have you as a guest.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Decorations

Christmas Express Train ($125)
HoHoHo ($9.95)
The Christmas Holidays seem to bring out excitement and creativity in just about everyone. Decorations, gift wrap, ornaments on the tree, lights strung across rooftops, nativity scenes on the lawn. Not all of it is high art, but every bit of it is from the heart. The bright colors, fancy garlands and welcoming wreaths support the spirit of giving that comes to fore in the Holidays. When it comes to Holiday Decorations, Vintages tries to add a touch of elegance, a bit of whimsy and new and different ideas to the Holiday decorating box of goodies.
Believe Garland ($18.95) • Glitter Wreaths and Garlands ($25.95)
This year we have silver and bronze garlands and wreaths, the new in colors for the season. But we have not abandoned the traditional reds and greens.
Handmade Gift Tags (starting at $1.75 each)
Here's a gallery of our Holiday Decorations in the shop. Come by and see the whole array of our Vintages Holiday.
One-of-a-Kind Handmade Santa ($119) • Silver Trees (from $17.95) • Bench ($125)
Metal Stockings (from $26.95)
Glass Trees ($19.95 to $32.95)
NOEL Ornament ($4.95)
A Variety of Specialty Ornaments (from $4.75 each)
Glass Ornaments ($9.95)
White Birds (from $8.95 each)
Holiday Ornament Candy Jars ($24.95)
Decorated Houses (from $29.95) • Gilded Votive Candles ($7.95 - $8.95)
Handcrafted Angles, Snowmen and Santas (from $21.95)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vintage Christmas Tree Pins and Holiday Jewelry

The Christmas tree has probably been the number one motif in costume jewelry over the years. They can be found made of glittery rhinestones, spectacular Austrian crystals, bright enamels, polished silver and even fine gemstones. They can be simple or baroque, modern or traditional, whimsical, glitzy or even weird! With so many facets to collecting these holiday statements, it's no wonder that they are such a popular collectible.

The fir or pine tree became a symbol of the Christmas Holidays back in the 16th century in Germany. The tradition was recognized by Martin Luther and eventually spread to the rest of the Christian world in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Victorian Christmas Locket
The elaborately decorated Christmas trees of the Victorian times led women, and some men, to adorn themselves in bright jewelry with holiday themes. Victorian and Edwardian holiday jewelry featured cherubs and angels, bells and garlands, and later some trees. (The locket to the left is courtesy Morning Glory Collects.)

The rise in popularity of costume jewelry in the 1930s made it possible for the average lady to wear bright and beautiful jewels. Christmas tree pins became popular by the 1940s and reached a peak in the '50s and '60s. Every major designer of costume jewelry created a line of Christmas tree pins, pendants, and other jewelry. These were sold in all the department stores and the five-and-dime stores as well.

While there was a decline in the popularity of Holiday pins in the 1980s, the Christmas tree pin made a big comeback in the 1990s and can be found pretty much everywhere jewelry is sold today.
L to R: Eisenberg, Swaboda and Hollycraft Christmas Tree Pins
Major costume jewelry houses such as Eisenberg, Swaboda and Hollycraft (above) participated in the lucrative market. Some others just dabbled in it like Haskell, Carnegie or Chanel. Trifari has made Christmas tree pins for years.
These are Weiss Christmas Tree Pins with 6, 5 and 3 Candles, plus a Pair of Earrings

Maybe the most famous, and collectible, series of Christmas tree pins were made by Weiss. These trees came with different numbers of candles and had matching earrings. These are expensive, but having an entire set is the holy grail of Christmas tree collecting.

Wendy Gell Handmade Christmas Tree Pin
In recent years, a number of designers are making spectacular, one-of-a-kind tree pins. Wendy Gell's altered art pins, the Schultz's recycled Bakelite creations, and Clarke's whimsical Lucite trees. Lea Stein's celluloid acetate tree pins are a favorite of ours. These command high prices as serious collectors love them. Wish we had some of these!
L to R: Schultz Bakelite Tree, Clarke Lucite Tree and Lea Stein Celluloid Acetate Tree
Susan's Bottlebrush Tree Pin
 One unusual Christmas tree pin is this decorated vintage bottlebrush tree that has a pin-back on it. This one is from Susan's bottlebrush tree collection.

But, of course, most of us have more modest means and collect pins that are more traditional and less rare. Here at Vintages, we have a nice collection of Christmas Tree pins and other Holiday Jewelry. Most of our pins are available online, but some have not made it to the internet yet. Take a look at some of our inventory below, and check our shopping site for many more.
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